Iowa Democratic Party vs Democratic voters: Can the shepherd find the sheep?

Glenn Hurst: “Democrats across Iowa are looking for a candidate who is not playing to the middle, the establishment. They want to vote for someone who runs as a Democrat and espouses Democratic values.” -promoted by Laura Belin

In 2016, when Bernie Sanders lost the primary to Hillary Clinton and then Donald Trump won the presidency, Iowa Democrats were at each other’s throats. Blame was laid on the left-leaning voters for not turning out for Clinton. The establishment was accused of running a system to “fix” the nomination for an unpopular candidate.

This intraparty drama was such a common phenomena across the country that a reconciliation committee, a.k.a. the “Unity Panel” was formed to address the conflict.

If my Facebook wall and Twitter feed are a measure of political discontent, the party is absolutely pacified. There has been a relative lack of backroom chatter regarding the presidential outcome this year compared to 2016. The Joe Biden win appears to be taken as a relief and eyes have turned away from questioning why he lost in Iowa. This does not mean the Iowa Democratic Party has wiped its brow and is moving on with business as usual.

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Lessons of 2020: Win or lose, Rita Hart was a good fit for IA-02

Fifth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2020 state and federal elections.

Democrat Rita Hart’s campaign has asked for a recount in all 24 counties of Iowa’s second Congressional district, where Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks led by 196,862 votes to 196,815 (49.92% to 49.90%) after the canvass. It’s the closest U.S. House race in the country, and one of the closest in Iowa history.

The lead has changed twice since election night: first, when fixing a tabulation error in Jasper County put Hart slightly ahead, and then when a correction in Lucas County moved Miller-Meeks back into the lead.

Recounts in Iowa rarely produce big changes in vote totals, so Republicans are confident they will pick up this seat. However, overcoming a deficit of 47 votes out of nearly 400,000 cast is certainly possible in a recount.

Either way, one fact is clear: Hart performed much better than a generic Democrat, perhaps better than any nominee not named Dave Loebsack could have in these circumstances.

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Lessons of 2020: Iowa Catholics stuck with Trump

Third in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2020 state and federal elections.

White non-Hispanic Catholics supported Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by a wide margin in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center’s analysis of exit polls and subsequent survey of validated voters.

Preliminary exit poll data suggests that Joe Biden improved his standing with those voters, losing white Catholics by 57 percent to 42 percent, compared to Clinton’s 64 percent to 31 percent deficit. That’s consistent with some polls taken during the campaign, which showed Biden gaining support among white Catholics–not surprising, since the Democratic nominee frequently referred to his Catholic faith and upbringing in public appearances.

I expected Biden to improve substantially on Clinton’s performance in Iowa’s most heavily Catholic counties, where “Kennedy Democrats” were once a solid voting bloc. But that didn’t happen.

On the contrary, Trump increased his raw vote totals and share of the vote in those counties, as he did in many parts of the state.

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Super Tuesday: A reversal of fortune

Dan Guild reflects on the weekend’s two game-changing events, which have no precedent in Democratic presidential campaigns. -promoted by Laura Belin

“Events dear boy, events” – attributed to to British Prime Minister Harold McMillan, though whether he said it is disputed.

I have spent a good amount of time studying primary polling.  The single most important lesson I have learned is that they are subject to sudden change. It is why I love the McMillan quote – it captures how unpredictable events can rapidly change the political calculus. 

This weekend we saw two race-changing events in 24 hours: Joe Biden’s decisive win in South Carolina and the sudden departure of Pete Buttigieg, the winner of the Iowa caucuses (depending on how you measure the results). These two events in combination are impossible to model. The Iowa winner has never withdrawn this early.  A front-runner has never performed so badly as Biden has before South Carolina and then recovered.

Having said that, I think history offers two parallels:

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How the Iowa caucuses work, part 1: The new 2020 rules

Expanded and revised from a series published at Bleeding Heartland during the 2016 election cycle

The Iowa caucuses are a notoriously complicated process, and new rules intended to make the caucuses more representative have added to the confusion. This post will cover the basics of what will happen on the evening of February 3 and the three ways the Democratic results will be reported. Later pieces will examine other elements of the caucus system:

Part 2 will explore barriers that keep many politically engaged Iowans from participating in the caucuses, despite several attempts to improve accessibility.

Part 3 will focus on caucus math, which creates different ways to win a Democratic precinct, and for the first time this year, more than one way to win the state.

Part 4 will cover the role of precinct captains or other active volunteers, both before the caucuses and at the “neighborhood meeting.”

Part 5, to be published after results are in, will ponder whether the Iowa caucuses as we know them will soon cease to exist, given the growing sentiment among Democrats around the country that the first nominating contests should be in more diverse, representative states.

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Why didn't Cory Booker take off in Iowa?

My father used to say the most optimistic person is the guy on the brink of bankruptcy. He’s always thinking the next sale or the next deal will turn everything around.

Cory Booker remained “incomprehensibly upbeat” on the campaign trail, in the words of Rebecca Buck, who spent a year covering him for CNN. The senator from New Jersey wasn’t just another unsuccessful candidate falling for his own spin. Booker made believers out of many who were closely watching the campaign.

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